Preliminary work begins at Westlake's Juniper GTL plant

By By Frank DiCesare / American Press

Preliminary fieldwork is underway on the Juniper GTL plant in Westlake as workers begin examining the site’s existing equipment,

which will be refurbished for the new facility.

James Davis, senior vice president of SGC Energia, Juniper’s parent company, said the bulk of the fieldwork will begin next

week and is expected to take about four months to complete.

Davis said Matrix Service of Orange, Texas, has been chosen to do most of the fieldwork, which will include installing new

piping and bracing. The company will also clean out and inspect the existing equipment to ensure it works properly before

it becomes integrated with the new GTL plant.

“We’re going to go over the equipment

with a fine-toothed comb and make sure that it’s going to be fully

functional,” he said.

“The existing facility there is in very good shape, but it needs

to be refurbished to make sure that it operates properly.”

The estimated $100 million facility

will produce about 1,100 barrels a day of diesels, waxes and naphtha.

The project is expected

to create 29 direct jobs, which pay an average of $85,000 a year,

plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates

the facility will create 112 indirect jobs.

Construction workers are currently examining the site’s equipment, which was originally owned by Praxair, an industrial gases

company based in Danbury, Conn. Praxair sold the equipment and land to Juniper last June.

Workers are opening up the equipment to get it ready for final inspection, clean out and refurbishment, Davis said.

“We want to get the equipment up to as close to factory-new as possible,” he added.

Among the former Praxair equipment Juniper is looking to refurbish is a steam methane reformer, which Davis said will be at

the heart of Juniper’s daily operations.

The steam methane reformer will convert natural gas into synthesis gas, a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which

is used to make products such as methanol and ammonia.

“When we did our initial due diligence

on that facility we began to realize that (the steam methane reformer)

is in good shape

and it would not take a whole lot to get it back to the point

where it’s ready to go,” he said. “So we saw that as a tremendous

advantage, as well as a lot of the other equipment that’s on


Davis said he doesn’t expect to see any major groundwork on the site until the fall, when construction is slated to begin

on the plant’s foundation.

Hiring for non-labor jobs at the Juniper plant has begun. Davis said a full-time human resource officer is now at the company’s

Interstate 10 office to assist with screening and candidate selection. Those interested in submitting a resume to Juniper

can do so via email at

Davis added that hiring for the

project’s craft labor jobs will be done by the engineering and

construction contractors hired

to design and build the facility. He added that the project’s

front-end engineering and design contract was sent out for bid

a year ago. Davis, however, declined to comment on whether the

contract was awarded.

“That kind of information will be forthcoming sometime during the second quarter of this year,” he said.